"The Environment Court has appointed a judge and three commissioners to consider the appeal against TrustPower being granted resource consent to build a hydro scheme on the Wairau River.A a good mix of skills to be able to distill all of the arguments and make an unbiased call?
Judge Gordon Whiting, of the Auckland Environment Court, will preside. Judge Whiting holds an economics BA and a law degree from Otago University and was admitted to the Bar in 1968.
Helen Beaumont, former assistant parliamentary commissioner for the environment (2000-2007), has been appointed a commissioner for the hearing. With a professional background in environmental chemistry, she has focused on environmental health and the connections between the quality of the environment and human well-being.
Commissioner Dr Alex Sutherland holds a Bachelor (first-class honours) and Masters of Engineering and a PhD in civil engineering and mathematics.
In 1967, Dr Sutherland joined the University of Canterbury as a lecturer in civil engineering and was engineering dean from 1987 to 2005.
The third commissioner, John Mills, graduated from Lincoln University with a degree in agricultural commerce in 1975.
He owned and managed a 3000 stock-unit sheep and beef farm in the Te Anau Basin from 1981-1999 and served on the Southland Regional Council from 1989-1998, seven of those years as deputy chairman."
What do they want to do to the Wairau River?
"TrustPower received consent last year to build a 48-kilometre canal on the southern side of the river and take about 60 per cent of the river's flow to produce 72 megawatts of power for the $250m project."Department of Conservation - what do they say?
"Nelson-Marlborough conservator Neil Clifton said DOC was not opposed to the hydro development but wanted to protect bird habitat and food sources.And this is telling -
The deal meant TrustPower would leave more water in the river during the summer nesting period, he said.
DOC has agreed to a flow-sharing regime that will see TrustPower get the first five cubic metres per second (cumecs) above the minimum flow and two-thirds of any flow above that.
Minimum flows at the scheme's intake, above Wash Bridge, vary from 10 cumecs in summer to 20 cumecs in spring."
"TrustPower community relations manager Graeme Purches said DOC would not receive any money."I oppose doing these deals. Save the stilts and stuff the river?
How about saving them both, and our communities by opposing these schemes. Reduce demand and change the way we think about energy - that is the answer.
Creating dubious schemes that often cause many more problems than they solve is yesterday's thinking and solution.